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Build Thread 150g VIV Planted Discus Build Thread

Soooooo...... A planted discus tank has always been on my aquatic bucket list, and I've never really gotten around to it. I did a massive 180g tank build thread many years ago on Aquatic Plant Central. That tank is still up and running some 13 years later. I've been an angelfish breeder since my teens, and the beauty of planted tanks has always captivated me. If you're interested, that build thread is here.

Along the way I discovered Aquatic Plant Central, which, I believe was founded by Art. After a couple years he invited me to be a moderator, and when he stepped away I became the admin of that site. It was a fun, wild ride, but life happened and I eventually burned out. Hardcore. We were in the middle of raising a bunch of kids and establishing a surgical practice. Life was BUSY! My tank was HORRIBLY neglected for the last 5 or 6 years. A chance visit to an LFS and a half-dozen gorgeous angelfish re-piqued my interest, and after a few months..... that 180g tank is coming around. I had to re-learn a few things, but it's been fun (which is the whole point, last I checked).

As things happen, I chanced upon an opportunity to acquire a 150g VIV rimless tank for a pretty nice deal. It's still "in the mail" but I should have it this week. The dreaded MTS disease is setting in and you can all watch it happen. :)

As I did for my 180g tank, I plan on doing this to minimize maintenance and make a visual impact. When we built the house, the 180g was set up on a dedicated power circuit (backed up by a standby generator), plumbing, a circulation pump, RO unit, water reservoir, and the whole shebang.

For this, I plan on doing roughly the same. There is a "man cave" room in our house that never really got used for its intended purpose as an exercise room, so I'm planning on a small remodel to make a part of it into a fish room. All of the ugly parts will be hidden behind a new wall. This will include framing in the wall, a new doorway, a bit of plumbing, some tile, and a small bit of electrical work to install a couple of lights and modifying one of my breakers so it's also on the standby power generator. Fortunately, I already have a sewer pipe we can tie into, a soft water supply, and hard water supply right where I need them.

I'm still in the planning stage on much of this. Available equipment has made incredible progress since I did this the first time. The 180g had 150W HQI metal halides with supplemental T5s. This one will run on Chihiros LEDs. It will be CO2 injected and pH controlled, of course, and will be plumbed so I can do a 50% WC in about 15-20 minutes just by turning a couple valves.

This thread is perhaps a bit premature, but it will be a place-holder and I'll document it as stuff goes along. The physical aquarium is one of the least important parts of the whole show and I'm a bit like the guy who got into horses by buying a horse before the barn was even built. :)
So, after a bit of waiting, the aquarium showed up yesterday from Aqua Rocks Colorado:



After carefully removing the crating material (while video recording everything just in case), a gorgeous aquarium emerged:



That same night, my cousin, who is both an aquarium enthusiast and carpenter came over to take a look at a little remodel job to make a nice spot for this beast and to allow for all of the equipment to be out of sight. Here's where it will go:


The 46g bowfront quarantine tank will have to move. We'll move the exercise thing out, pull up some carpet, frame off a room about 4' deep parallel to the back wall, tile an area for the aquarium to sit on, and re-finish the visible parts. There will be an access door to the left side. Inside the new equipment space will be a poly storage reservoir, RO unit, circulation pump, drain, water inputs, perhaps a UV sterilizer, pH controller, and maybe the canister filter.

The framing work should start in a week or two. It shouldn't take more than a couple of days to rough-in. A plumber will need to make a couple connections, and then I'll be in business.

Today, I started work on the stand:




This is just the guts. I'll start on the hardwood exterior panels when I get some time. It will probably be next week before that really gets underway.
Paint? Perish the thought!

This baby is going to be black walnut.

Varnish would perhaps the be most water-resistant, but I'm really partial to lacquer. I agree that varnish smells for a long time. Multiple coats of lacquer have usually done pretty well for me, almost completely drying in 8-12 hours.

Here's a couple of projects I've done in the past, and this is basically the same look I'm going for. The chessboard is a high-gloss lacquer. I'll probably go for more of a satin finish, which is what I used on the jewelry boxes. The bookshelf top was done with Danish oil.




I visited a couple fish shops in Salt Lake City today. One of them specializes in discus and altum angelfish. They’ve also been a bucket-list fish for me, and there’s apparently no reason they can’t coexist very happily so….. this might become a discus/altum setup.

Some of my wife’s family came to visit and they were kind enough to help me move the tank into the basement. Wow they’re heavy! Some walnut went on the stand today. Another week and it should be about done. More photos soon….
I visited a couple fish shops in Salt Lake City today. One of them specializes in discus and altum angelfish. They’ve also been a bucket-list fish for me, and there’s apparently no reason they can’t coexist very happily so….. this might become a discus/altum setup.

Some of my wife’s family came to visit and they were kind enough to help me move the tank into the basement. Wow they’re heavy! Some walnut went on the stand today. Another week and it should be about done. More photos soon….

Yes! another potential Discus tank!

Love the work so far, looking forward to seeing everything start to come together.
Really looking forward to watching this come together. I know it's a pain but pictures along the way help others learn from your experience. Hope you can capture the process.

I too burnt out hard back in the day. What I try to do now is by sensitive to how I'm feeling. If it's starting to not be fun, I ease up and back away for a bit. Kinda taking your foot off the pedal. It's helped me balance and keep the passion in the hobby for a while now.
I'm starting to stockpile supplies for this setup. I've got my lights narrowed down and a canister filter. I'll do a DIY CO2 reactor. Still need to think about a pH controller and substrate.

Substrate. I prefer a black or dark substrate and in the past I've used Soilmaster select, flourite, and Eco Complete. For this setup, I'm not really interested in the glass-bottom potted plant thing, or the sand/rock combo thing that I've seen in a few discus setups. I understand why people do it, but that's not the look I'm after.

So, I've come up with:
Eco Complete
Flourite Dark
ADA Aquasoil Amazonia

I'm leaning toward Eco Complete again, as I've used it in the past, and it sounds like whatever benefits come from Aquasoil are probably burned out after a year or two.

For a dark substrate, I would only ever consider black blasting sand or Aqua/Landen/Tropica soil.

Eco-complete / Flourite is fine... but it's really expensive for an inert substrate. But, if you liked it then I won't try and convince you otherwise, I've used both in the past and prefer Flourite over Eco-complete, but I prefer black blasting sand over both these option.
OK, so the stand is more or less complete. No more woodworking photos after this, I promise. The figure and coloration of the wood that I was able to source for this project is really something - more worthy of fine furniture than a "fish tank" stand, but it wasn't any more expensive than straight-grain wood, so why not? Combining two hobbies is always fun though. :)




My cousin/contractor will be able to start working around the end of the month. It isn't a very big project (in contractor terms) and most of it should be wrapped up by the 4th of July week. After that, a bit of plumbing, a little electrical work, and I can actually get the stand and aquarium positioned.

I'm thinking of getting a canister filter on the way so I can hook it up to my current 180g to start testing it out and getting some biology active in it. For a planted tank, circulation and mechanical filtration is probably more important than biological filtration, but it should help with the break-in.

My current 180g is running on two 2217 classic Eheims, each tied to an in-line Hydor heater. Also, there is a separate closed-loop circulation pump that runs the CO2 reactor and UV unit. It also allows me to do 50% water changes in 20 minutes just by turning a couple of valves. I like all of that, but the circulation pump is pretty noisy, especially for a TV room. This setup needs to be QUIET!

I'm considering these:

Eheim Thermofilter
OASE Biomaster Thermo 850
FZone Stainless Steel unit (basically mimics an ADA filter) - would also require a separate heater.

In concept, I'm leaning toward a large FZone unit with one of their bigger pumps. This way it could just be in-line with everything else on a single loop. I could turn up flowrates for water changes and set it more reasonably for regular use. It would also reduce the number of inlet/outlet pipes entering and exiting the tank, which is important. My current 180g uses a DIY spraybar along the entire back of the tank which really helps with circulation and I'm inclined to do this again, along with a DIY CO2 reactor.

For discus, careful temp control is important but I'd also like to minimize the amount of equipment visible in the tank. Choices, choices..... :)